I have been working a lot personally on unconditional love in my relationships especially with family. What is unconditional love? It is loving someone the way they are right now, not dependent on what they do, say or act. Why is this so hard sometimes and with certain people? Because we have unspoken expectations of how other people (especially family members) should think, feel, and behave. We get disappointed when they don’t comply with the “rules” or our manual for how they should act and that leads to hurt, anger, resentment and all kinds of negative emotions.
Do you ever wonder why family members that witnessed or were involved in the same argument will all have different versions of what happened? We all make up a story of what happened and what it means to us, about us and the other people involved. It can become very painful when we also take responsibility for how other people think, feel or behave and think it is our job to fix their problems. This can happen with adult children. I have gotten coaching on this and this is what I learned.
1. I am not responsible for anyone else’s thoughts, feelings, or actions. I am only responsible for my own
2. Everyone is worthy and lovable just by being human
3. Forgiveness is for me and not the other person
4. We are all just doing the best we can and that’s OK
5. Families don’t always get along and that’s OK
6. Suffering is caused by our thoughts about a situation, the story we make up and what we make it mean about us
7. Suffering is also caused by arguing with reality, wishing things were different
8. Accept reality and that what happened in the past is past; drop your story about what happened or write a new story about how it was good or at least just the facts. Only then can we be open enough to feel unconditional love
9. Be willing to be wrong, apologize for hurt feelings. Dropping the story does not mean you condone the other person’s behavior.
10. Ask yourself what would love do?
Unconditional love is a choice and it feels so much better than judgment and resentment. I choose love, what do you choose?
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